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updated 4:07 PM, Jan 24, 2021 America/Chicago

Virus concerns lead to declining attendance for Rotary Club

                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Rotary Club of Livingston president Matt Anderson conducts business at last week’s Rotary Club meeting at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

By Jason Chlapek

Matt Anderson remembers when Rotary Club of Livingston met on a weekly basis.

He also remembers when there were 30-40 club members meeting on a weekly basis. But things have changed since Covid-19.

The local Rotary Club has met every other Thursday since the pandemic and attendance at the meetings has declined. Many of the club members are in the 50-over age group, which is more susceptible to adverse effects from Covid.

“The main reason for declining attendance is the health concerns related to Covid,” Anderson said. “People are a little leery to meet in large groups and to expose themselves is what the majority of our members have expressed. The majority of our members are mature and they’re the ones that are more susceptible to Covid.”

Anderson is the president of Rotary Club of Livingston. He would like to see attendance return to the way it was prior to Covid, and an increase in membership.

“In the past we’ve had committees and chairs that have taken care of and brainstormed different ideas for recruiting new members,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, the last 6-8 months have been kind of stopped and had a pause button placed on it. We’re more in maintaining mode right now than we are growth mode or anything else. It’s just really hard right now to get new members and do events. We want new members and welcome new members. Unfortunately, this past year we have not been able to do the events we normally do or help out with them.”

While things are not as active as they were prior to Covid, Rotary Club is still going to perform two of its biggest service projects, albeit on a smaller scale. Anderson said manpower, not finances, are more of a reason behind this.

“We’re still doing the Empty Stocking program to help our community, but we’re doing it on a smaller scale just for the sheer number of volunteers and community help that we have,” he said. “We need people to help us shop and to deliver. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have as many as we normally do. We have our Pancake Supper toward the end of February. We’re still planning on having that, but with a revised schedule of having a drive-thru meal option. We hope the community is still looking forward to having some Rotary Pancakes.”

For the moment, Rotary Club meets every other Thursday at noon at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. Anderson said things could change once the new year starts.

“We’re doing every-other-week meetings to help people social distance,” he said. “We can go back to meeting once a week if that helps our members if that’s what our membership wants. We’re trying to do what’s best for our membership, listen to what their needs are and what they want. With the holidays approaching, lots of our members travel and visit families so it’s a little harder right now. If we decide to resume weekly meetings, it would be in January before we did that.”

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